At least one person has been killed after a large tornado ripped through New Orleans on March 22, officials have confirmed.
The death occurred in Arabi in St. Bernard Parish, which borders New Orleans proper. The area was hit hard by the tornado, which destroyed homes and knocked down power lines.
“There’s widespread damage from where it touched down,” St. Bernard Sheriff James Pohlmann said in a news conference at 10 p.m. local time. “There’s heavy damage to multiple structures in the area, they have multiple injuries in the area.”
Pohlmann did not provide further details regarding the death.
St. Bernard Parish President Guy McInnis confirmed to CNN that at least one person had died in the Arabi neighborhood but also offered no further details. He said that parish officials have several reports of residents being hospitalized following the tornado but were unsure of the specific number of injuries that had been sustained.
Some homes were “picked up off their foundations and are lying in the street,” he said.
The tornado struck shortly after 7 p.m. local time and traveled through parts of New Orleans and into the Arabi area of St. Bernard Parish.
Video footage posted to social media shows the large dark funnel cloud plowing through Arabi and appearing to take out power lines.
Damage was reported in the communities of Arabi, Gretna, and St. Bernard Parish, according to local reports. While the extent of the damage is not yet clear, images shared online show a vehicle completely overturned and buildings that appear to be badly damaged.
Photos shared online show emergency responders conducting rescue efforts and assessing the damage to homes, some of which appear to have been completely destroyed.
“State agencies are assisting local officials as needed as they assess the damage and impacts of these tornadoes,” Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said on Twitter. “My prayers are with you in Southeast Louisiana tonight. Please be safe.”
The Louisiana Office of State Fire Marshal (SFM) said that more than 100 responders from search and rescue teams from the New Orleans and Baton Rouge areas have been dispatched to the areas affected by the tornado.
“SFM staff is already on-site in Arabi providing teams with intel and direction for response,” they said.
According to PowerOutage.us, there are currently 2,284 in St. Bernard Parish without power and 1,316 in Orleans, although more than 10,000 had been left without power shortly after the tornado hit, CNN reported.
New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell said late on Tuesday that the New Orleans Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness has activated the Emergency Operations Center in response to the tornado, which she said touched down in the Lower Ninth Ward and New Orleans East communities shortly before 8 p.m. local time.
“As of now there have been no reports of casualties or significant damage to Orleans Parish,” Cantrell said. “Residents should avoid all travel, that isn’t essential, to provide an opportunity for the professionals to handle this situation.”
The National Weather Service said late Tuesday that the “line of storms that caused damage earlier this evening in the New Orleans area continues to progress to the east.” While the severe threat has ended everywhere west of Gulfport, it will continue for Jackson County, Missouri until around midnight.
The latest weather event comes as much of southern Louisiana is still recovering from last year’s Hurricane Ida, which struck in August and caused widespread damage to rural communities to the south of New Orleans and killed more than 100 people in the South and Caribbean.
From The Epoch Times